Catchin’ Up With Charlie Barrett

Georgia's Charles Barrett piloted this #09 Torino for George Elliott in 1973. Photo courtesy the Barrett Family

By Mike Bell
Posted in Feature Stories 12/23/11

When Chris Rutledge and I went up to Cleveland, Georgia to interview Charlie Barrett, we felt it best to talk to him at his used car lot. That is where he always is and I knew he would feel comfortable there. The used car business has been his life since 1965.

“From 1965 to 1974, I was just in the wholesale business,” Charlie told us. “I started out going to (Albany) New York to buy cars. I did that for a year or maybe a year-and-a-half. We even bought a carryall. We went up near Chattanooga to buy the carryall. We wanted one with a good engine. We put new steering bars and tires on it. Then the engine blew. We used it about a year or so.

“I was in the wholesale business a long time when I went over to Clarksville to sell a man some cars. He said that he didn’t want to buy anything but he did want to sell me all his cars and rent me the lot. That was what we did. Ray Franklin and I were partners for years. We came back to Cleveland in 1990 or 1991. I live next door so it is walking distance to work.”

But it didn’t start out that way for Charlie. His father Carl C. Barrett and mother Cleo Todd Barrett ran a farm in White County.

“He had about 80 or 85 acres and I knew every foot of it,” Charlie said. “I was a good farm hand on a tractor. I worked that farm when I was a teenager. My dad had so much for me to do that I didn’t have anything else to do. I knew there had to be something better than raising cotton. You couldn’t plow it when it first came up it was so fragile. And when you went to pick it you would start at the lower side and work your way up. Then when you looked back, you knew you had to start all over again. When you gathered corn you could pick all the ears from one side. When you got to the end of a row, you knew you were through but not cotton; that wasn’t the way with cotton.”

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